FEARNET Movie Review: 'The Borderlands'


While many are quick to note that "we've had enough found footage horror for right now, thank you very much," those of us who watch a ton of indie films may take solace in the fact that, hey, at least we're out of the woods now. Literally. While most of the micro-budget hand-held horror films have taken place deep in the woods (because forests are creepy, especially at night) or houses deep in the woods, there are some new arrivals that bring the soon-to-be-found footage out of the wilderness and into, well, the church.

The new indie thriller entitled Daylight manages to combine found footage with religion-based occult horror in rather fine fashion, and the (also new) UK import known as The Borderlands does it even better. If you're a fan of the "faux documentary" horror approach but you're looking for a slightly new take on the format, The Borderlands offers the story of two Vatican-sanctioned investigators who are tasked with confirming (and recording) the presence of something allegedly insidious that has made its presence felt at an isolated church.
Seasoned horror fans know the format by now: give the audience a little time to get used to the "first-person" storytelling format; introduce the simple premise and the basic characters; let everything percolate for a little while; and then treat the viewer to some slam-bang jolts, a few creepy ideas, and a finale that, well... I thought the last ten minutes of The Borderlands were pretty damn excellent, so let's just leave that section vague.
What's most impressive about The Borderlands is not even the creepy stuff in Act III, but the smooth and quietly appealing chemistry between lead actors Robin Hill and Gordon Kennedy. One's a priest and the other is the camera wizard, but they're also sharp, colorful, and cynical enough to give audiences something to appreciate while waiting for the scary stuff. Nitpickers will be pleased to note that there's firm logic behind the found footage format: the men are actually there to document the whole church, so it only makes sense that little cameras are stuck all over the walls.
If it's the chemistry of the leads and the consistent promise of something creepy just down the next plot turn, the ending is where The Borderlands manages to pay off in low-key but very disturbing fashion. So while it's easy to throw your hands up and yell about "another found footage indie horror film?!?" it's also a lot more rewarding to simply sit down and throw 80 minutes at a movie to see what happens. The Borderlands offers nothing that's new or even remotely revolutionary in the fake-docu-horror department, but it does have wit, atmosphere, restraint, and a few seriously good scares.